Rick Perry’s Speed Date With The GOP Electorate: Will He Find A Match? (The Note)

Aug 19, 2011 9:04am

By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone) and AMY WALTER (@amyewalter)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ever since Rick Perry jumped into the presidential race less than one week ago, it seems like he’s been running a campaign on fast-forward.

In the space of just a few days, he’s called the actions of the Federal Reserve Chairman “almost treasonous,” nicknamed President Obama an “excuse maker in chief,” taken on global warming and modulated his position on a controversial medical procedure he tried to implement in Texas, all while crisscrossing three important early-nominating states.

But while the freedom — and frequency — with which Perry deploys his zingers, the knives he uses to sharpen his attacks and his colorful, folksy manner all may win him headlines, it’s still unclear whether they will win him primaries.

His reception Thursday morning at a meet-and-greet event in the New Hampshire Seacoast town of Portsmouth was less-than-enthusiastic, and while it was less a gauge of his support within the Republican Party, the fact that Perry had to face down angry protesters showed how hard those on the left are going to work to sink his candidacy. And, as we’ve already seen this week, many on the right plan to do the same.

About two-dozen protesters confronted Perry in Portsmouth, holding signs with slogans like “Another Texas idiot for sale,” and shouting, “Hands off Social Security and Medicare!” and “You’re a threat to America.” Inside a cafe where he was shaking hands with voters, two New Hampshire women grilled him on whether he thought Social Security was unconstitutional. Outside a woman used her small child as a prop to ask him about his views on evolution. http://abcn.ws/nwiQYW

And Perry, who has already drawn fire from rival candidates Ron Paul and Rick Santorum as well as Karl Rove, added another detractor — Jon Hunstman. The former Utah governor who until yesterday has doled out nothing but love for his fellow candidate, changed his tune yesterday. Huntsman took to Twitter, subtly calling out Perry’s views on global warming.  “To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy,” he tweeted. http://abcn.ws/qA1Lj5

“The governor has clearly made a big influential splash this week and has quickly become a major candidate for president,” Perry’s spokesman Ray Sullivan told reporters yesterday as the governor had lunch at a diner in Dover, N.H. “We would expect to draw fire from the White House — as we have — even the other Republicans in the race. It's part of the process.”

Perry is back in South Carolina, where he made his announcement last Saturday, today and tomorrow after his campaign swing through Iowa and New Hampshire.

But one thing to remember about Perry’s chilly reception yesterday morning in New Hampshire is this — this early nominating state is not like the others. Digging into cross-tabs of New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina exit polls (in Iowa it's actually an entrance poll) illustrates what a different universe New Hampshire is from the other two states and why former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney remains well positioned there

In 2008, 60 percent of Iowans and South Carolinians who voted in the GOP primary called themselves Evangelical Christians. Just 23 percent of Granite Staters who voted in GOP primary said they were Evangelical.

In South Carolina, just 28 percent of those who voted in the Republican primary said abortion should be mostly or always legal compared to 52 percent of those in New Hampshire who voted in Republican primary.

In all three places, independents can vote in GOP primary. There are some who suggest that because there is no Democratic primary, more moderate independents will vote in GOP primaries and caucus. In South Carolina, for example, a quarter of the electorate in the GOP primary in 1996 was independent compared to just 18 percent in 2008. Even so, given how much more polarized the electorate has become, it's not clear that independents will be as attracted to voting in a Republican primary.

ABC’s Arlette Saenz contributed reporting.


THIS WEEK ON “THIS WEEK” EXCLUSIVE: JON HUNTSMAN. ABC’s Jake Tapper guest hosts “This Week” on Sunday and he welcomes presidential candidate Jon Huntsman for his first Sunday show interview as a presidential candidate. The former Utah governor and U.S. Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration sits down with Tapper at a time when he’s taking a more aggressive tone with his rivals but still faces an uncertain path to the GOP nomination. Also on the program, Obama campaign adviser, David Axelrod. Tapper will be joined by a “This Week” roundtable that includes Republican Pollster Frank Luntz, ABC News Political Analyst George Will, Democratic Strategist Donna Brazile, New York Times Political Correspondent Jeff Zeleny and Liz Claman of the Fox Business Network.


VIDEO OF THE DAY — PERRY’S LITTLEST CRITIC: N.H. MOTHER USES CHILD AS A PROP. ABC’s Arlette Saenz report that among the protestors at Thursday morning's meet and greet with Rick Perry in Portsmouth, N.H., a mother used her child as a prop to confront Perry about his beliefs on evolution and science. The mother pushed her son towards Perry and insisted he ask the governor about the age of the earth. "How old do I think the earth is? You know what, I don't have any idea," Perry said. "I know it's pretty old so it goes back a long, long way.  I'm not sure anybody actually knows completely and absolutely how long, how old the earth is." While Perry was answering the child's question, the mother continued to loudly whisper in the child's ear to ask him about evolution and why he doesn't believe in science. "Here your mom was asking about evolution, and you know it's a theory that's out there, and it's got some gaps in it. In Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools," Perry said.  "Because I figure you're smart enough to figure out which one is right." http://abcn.ws/reqdmf

CREATIONISM IN TEXAS SCHOOLS? The Texas Tribune’s Becca Aaronson fact-checks Perry’s answer to his young inquisitor. Gov. Rick Perry told a child questioner in New Hampshire today that Texas public schools teach creationism alongside evolution — a statement that state education experts are refuting in varying degrees. ‘No, it is not true,’ said Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, an interest group that has lobbied the State Board of Education to keep religion out of public schools. ‘Texas science standards do not call for teaching creationism in the classroom.’  David Bradley, a social conservative member of the State Board of Education, said he hadn't heard the governor's comments. But when asked if Texas schools teach creationism alongside evolution, Bradley responded, ‘Not specifically.’” http://bit.ly/qXQ9FN

WHITE HOUSE BROADSIDE: “Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan has taken aim at Texas Gov. Rick Perry for what he describes as the abysmal quality of education in the state’s public schools. “Far too few of their high school graduates are actually prepared to go on to college," Duncan tells Bloomberg TV’s Al Hunt of Texas in an interview set to air on Friday. "I feel very, very badly for the children there." (h/t ABC’s Devin Dwyer) http://abcn.ws/nDUndH


WHITE HOUSE WATCH: OBAMA’S WORK-CATION. A dispatch from ABC’s David Kerley: President Obama arrived in Martha’s Vineyard about 6:00pm Thursday. The First Lady and his daughters were not with him. They had arrived earlier on the island off the Massachusetts coast. But the President was not alone on Air Force One on the flight to Cape Cod, and on the Marine One flight to the Vineyard. Bo, the First Dog, traveled with the President and will enjoy the 28 acres of the Blue Heron Farm which the Obama’s have rented for 10 days. At the airport, the president greeted some onlookers and cradled a baby. “I don’t usually hang out with Red Sox fans,” said the president, who roots for the White Sox. (The child was wearing a Red Sox baby outfit.)

It will be a working-vacation for the President. The White House told reporters today that the Deputy Director of the National Economic Council will travel to Martha’s Vineyard to meet with the President on his new jobs program next week. The President’s counter-terrorism chief, John Brennan, is traveling with Mr. Obama and will work national security issues during the vacation. The White House tells ABC News the President won’t be pulling all-nighters working on his jobs plan and speech which he will deliver after Labor Day. But this will be a work-cation for the President who has seen his approval ratings at an all time low. http://abcn.ws/p2Xehv

@MaeveReston: A Vineyard msg of encouragement for @BarackObama in the brutal campaign ahead? #fitn #iacaucus #2012 yfrog.com/klxforkj


Jake Tapper “Good Morning America” report on criticism of the president's vacation during an economic crisis: http://abcn.ws/qb2iay


ON TODAY’S “TOP LINE”: ABC’s Amy Walter and Devin Dwyer hear from freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich. Clarke is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has vocally criticized the president this week. Later on the show, KTRK’s Ted Odberg covered education in Texas with Rick Perry as governor and was the subject of Perry’s infamous 2005 “Adios, Mofo” line. Watch “Top Line” LIVE at 12:00 p.m. Eastern. http://abcn.ws/toplineliveabc 

“TOP LINE” REPLAY: The New York Times’ Nate Silver and Matthias Shapiro of politicalmathblog went behind job numbers in Texas to tell “Top Line” what to make of Rick Perry’s jobs “miracle” in Texas. ”For the most part, you see unemployment tends to peak at about 2007, 2008 and then drops off and then either stays flat or it climbs just a little bit but Texas had a much smaller drop off and it looks like it's fully recovered from the recession. That's kind of unique in the world of employment numbers. So that, in addition to that, there were just a couple of other things. People are flocking to Texas, which is part of the reason that the unemployment rate hasn’t gone down. It looks like they're just a giant magnet for people to come to look for jobs,” Shapiro said. http://abcn.ws/pkBO7n

 (h/t ABC's Sarah Parnass)


@michaelpfalcone: Will #Perry's Bernanke comments hurt him in 2012? "I don't think so," says NH GOP Chair Jack Kimball

@DrewHampshire: Union Leader editorial: NH GOP Chairman Jack Kimball should go: bit.ly/rmCYJF



PAGING MITT ROMNEY. ABC’s Shushannah Walshe reports: “Mitt Romney has kept a relatively low profile all week, criticizing President Obama for his bus tour around the Midwest and his upcoming vacation on Martha's Vineyard. He held a campaign event in New Hampshire Wednesday and was fundraising in Wyoming Thursday, but he has kept his comments about the newest member of the 2012 club — [Rick Perry] — brief, calling him ‘a fine man and a fine governor.’ The Romney campaign's strategy for taking on Perry is to keep the focus on criticism of Obama and to avoid taking on Perry directly for as long as possible, according to advisers and members of his finance team. They hope Perry continues to spout controversial statements such as the ones this week about the Federal Reserve and global warming. ‘What sells in Texas doesn't always sell in other parts of the country,’ one member of Romney's finance team said. Despite being the nation's longest-serving governor, Perry lacks the experience of national reporters closely covering him and examining the decisions he made in office. Romney went through such scrutiny during his last bid for the White House and despite some awkward comments — most notably last week in Iowa when he told a heckler, ‘Corporations are people,’ — he seems to have benefitted from going through the process before. For now, the Romney camp seems to be following the plan to focus on Obama, not Perry, and hammer home its economic message.” http://abcn.ws/p9VE76

@EricFehrn: Video of Mitt's three days of campaigning in New Hampshire this week mi.tt/n797KV

SENATE NO-GO FOR RUSS FEINGOLD. “Former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., won't try to get his old job back, he's telling supporters in an email this morning,” Hotline’s Reid Wilson reports. “The former three-term senator would have been a top candidate to replace retiring Sen. Herb Kohl, or to take on Gov. Scott Walker in a potential recall election. But Feingold will tell his fans he's more interested in his teaching job at Marquette Law School. "After twenty-eight continuous years as an elected official … I have found the past eight months to be an opportunity to look at things from a different perspective," Feingold said in the email, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Craig Gilbert. Feingold said he is "thoroughly enjoying the life of a private citizen." Feingold's decision means Rep. Tammy Baldwin becomes Democrats' top choice for the seat. Republicans will likely face a primary battle between former Gov. Tommy Thompson and another candidate. Thompson has already picked out key advisors, though conservative groups like the Club for Growth want another Republican in the race.”

ALLEN WEST FACES TEA PARTY HEAT. “Allen West, the tea party messiah, is facing a backlash from the very activists who propelled him into the national conservative stratosphere,” Politico’s Alex Istenstadt reports. “At issue: West’s vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, a position that’s put him at odds with the conservatives who have hailed him a hero. The Florida Republican’s Facebook page has become a destination for West-bashing. ‘Allen West, please go home, reminisce about what your rhetoric was when you ran,’ one person wrote. ‘I never ever thought he would vote like this — I can only wonder what is to come from West at this point,’ wrote another. ‘I feel like Col. West stole from me,’ wrote one donor. ‘Can I get a refund?’ ‘We’ve expressed that we’re disappointed in him,’ said Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party. ‘The knee-jerk reaction was, ‘Let’s replace him.’ It’s a striking about-face for West, a smash-mouth South Florida conservative and Army veteran who some tea party activists had urged to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012. Unlike other House GOP freshmen whose clout comes from influential committee assignments or their proximity to leadership, West’s power is derived from his association with the tea party.” http://politi.co/r6dUq5

50 RICHEST MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. Roll Call tallies them up: http://bit.ly/p7uji4




@RyanLizza: @ByronYork throws cold water on idea that Paul Ryan would be stronger candidate than Perry or Romney: ow.ly/67kYm

@PhilipRucker: In a jam-packed Bazen's restaurant in Florence SC, button says "Out with Barry, in with Perry."

@JillDLawrence: #Bachmann's charitable record: Personal involvement, check. Financial donations, unclear. @andreastonez takes a look.huff.to/qMmz2q

@bethreinhard: Perry's overlooked asset in a general election: Hispanic supporttinyurl.com/3oskvf4



(all times local)

Rick Perry breakfasts at Bazen's Restaurant in Florence, S.C. at 8 a.m. At 9:10 a.m., Perry speaks and takes a tour of Carolinas Hospital System in Greenville. He hosts a lunch meet-and-greet in Greenville at 12:45 p.m. At 5 p.m., he tours downtown Greenville.

Mitt Romney holds two private fundraisers in Logan, Utah.

Herman Cain hosts the grand opening of his New Hampshire headquarters in Manchester at 5:15 p.m. At 6:15 p.m. he visits downtown Manchester.

Former Gov. Gary Johnson, of New Mexico, will speak at a National Press Club Luncheon at 12:30 p.m.

Michele Bachmann attends a town hall in Myrtle Beach, S.C., at noon. At 3:30 p.m., she attends a "Join Team Bachmann!" rally in Mt. Pleasant.

Ron Paul speaks to the Florida Liberty Summit in Orlando, Fla., at 7 p.m.

Thaddeus McCotter attends a meet-and-greet in Wolfeboro, N.H., hosted by the Patriots NH Values PAC at 6 p.m.

The Note Futures Calendar: http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV


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